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President Trump makes remarks as he meets with governors and members of Congress about tax cuts in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, April 12, 2018. Doug Mills / The New York Times

After White House meeting on trade, Burgum says 'playing field has not been level'

BISMARCK—North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum called his White House meeting with President Donald Trump "super productive" as he and other leaders from agriculture states discussed the administration's trade policies.

In an interview after the meeting, Burgum said "the playing field has not been level" and people shouldn't overreact to any particular proposal.

"We're watching a negotiation take place in real time," he said.

The meeting took place amid fears about a trade war with China that could hit North Dakota soybean producers. More than two-thirds of the state's soybean crop is exported to China.

In a statement, Burgum said he supports a "steady approach to negotiations with China" and North American Free Trade Agreement partners and encouraged the administration "to take appropriate steps to prevent or soften the impacts of retaliatory tariffs on North Dakota producers and improve market stability."

U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., who was also at Thursday's meeting, said "we want to get China to end their unfair trade practices, but need to do so in a way that prevents retaliatory tariffs on our ag products."

Burgum also recounted a moment in the meeting when Trump told his advisors to "take a look at" rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal he withdrew from days after taking office. Burgum said that pact could benefit North Dakota depending on "what we negotiate" but having "more export markets for us, that's a good thing."

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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